Northern Ireland manager Michael O’Neill said he was not concerned about “protecting a legacy” when he agreed to take over the job almost three years after leaving.
O’Neill has signed a five-and-a-half-year contract until Euro 2028.
The 53-year-old led Northern Ireland to Euro 2016 on his first appearance but insists he is not afraid to risk his reputation with the fans.
“It wasn’t so much in my way of thinking if I’m being honest,” O’Neill said.
“I’m not really concerned about protecting a legacy or anything like that. I’m more concerned about the job at hand.”
O’Neill, who returns after Ian Baraclough left in October, was first appointed at the end of 2011 and led the team for more than eight years before stepping down in April 2020.
That spell included reaching the European Championship final in France – Northern Ireland’s first major tournament in 30 years – and he will be hoping for similar heights this time around.
“I will give the job everything I gave the first time around,” added O’Neill, who was sacked by Stoke City in August.
“Hopefully we can have the same highs. We’ve had some lows as well, there’s no doubt about that. You have to go through that process as a manager and as a team as well.
“I believe the most important thing is to do the job to the best of your abilities. When I think back to 11 years ago when I walked in the door, I’m a much better manager and I have more “experience. I hope that shows in the work that I will be doing over the next five and a half years.”
“We want to get everyone on board”
O’Neill added that he “feels scratching” when it comes to club football after eight years with Northern Ireland and is now fully focused on the national team.
He returns with the side at rock bottom after a difficult spell under Baraclough, winning just four of 28 competitive games under the Englishman.
However, O’Neill says he has yet to fully immerse himself in games during Baraclough’s tenure, insisting the most important thing for him is to get everyone on board.
“I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t think it was possible,” he added when asked about qualifying for a major tournament.
“We were second in our World Cup group in 2018 and we had a tough group during [Euro] 2020. I know what is required and the players know what is required.
“The ultimate thing, to give us a chance, is to have unity in the squad and you need your best players available.
“We’ll have to hit the ground running straight away, but there’s a real focus amongst the group of senior players because they’re the ones who have had that experience, and I think they see it as an opportunity at this stage in their careers. .
“The most important thing is not that I’m back here to lead the team, but hopefully it will get the right reaction and galvanize a group of players who I think still believe they can go to a major tournament.
O’Neill also joked that he had told captain Steven Davis, 37, that he “wasn’t allowed to retire” and that influential Leicester City defender Jonny Evans was ” fully focused” on extending his international career.
“We’re not blessed with a huge amount of players in terms of players. Liam [Boyce] is the one who has an injury right now.
“These are one-on-one conversations I will have. The young players are the ones I will have to get to know. I have watched their development and growth.
“But the most important thing for me is to get everyone involved and that includes players who haven’t been involved recently or players who have made themselves unavailable.”